Just Say Hybrid 

Zach Plague makes books that don't just sit there.

With graphic surprises, exotic fonts, and format zaniness on every page, Zach Plague's new "hybrid typo/graphic novel" boring boring boring boring boring boring boring is anything but. In this and his previous origami-like downloadable mini-books, published through his indie press Featherproof, the Chicago-based designer and writer strives to make both the creation and enjoyment of literature more of an adventure. "As a designer first, I have a natural inclination to try out other layout techniques," says Plague, who will be at Pegasus Downtown (2349 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley) on July 8. He says he wanted to try a new way of approaching an art form that hasn't changed much in hundreds of years. "The design of the first mass-produced books was dictated by the Gutenberg-style press, which is very restrictive in the sense that all of the type has to line up in neat little rows, and wholly separate itself from pictures. In the digital age, we're freed from these constraints, yet we continue to create books in the same format that we have for so long. So I wanted to see what would happen if I broke with those traditions a little bit. Also, it's a book about art-school kids, and I feel like that subject matter gave me license to try something weird."

In the novel, a punk named Punk, armed with a potent sex drug, plays hell with a young couple whose relationship — Plague calls it an "anti-love affair" — is on the fritz. (Read a sample at Featherproof.com.) He hopes to see more projects that merge literature and design, such as The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman, which had a black page to represent the death of a character, or the more recent VAS: An Opera in Flatland, by Steve Tomasula and Stephen Farrell, and House of Leaves by Mark Danielewski. "I don't know if there's enough to call it a trend yet," he says. "It's going to be fascinating to see what happens to the publishing industry in the next few years. There seems to be a lot of alarmist sentiment in the industry, about people not reading, and the Internet taking over, and e-books, and all that. Sometimes it seems to me like the physical object of a book itself might become more of a collector's item, like vinyl is for many music lovers. But whether that happens are not, I'm interested in making books into special objects." 7:30 p.m. PegasusBookstore.com

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